All Things To All People


Two law firm mergers show corporate clients increasingly seek legal services under one roof.

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These days it is getting harder to compete as a small law firm with a limited number of practice areas.

Corporate clients increasingly want to deal with just one law firm for all their needs – whether that is tax, real estate planning, immigration and so on.

Two Portland law firms are merging in October to provide broader services to clients seeking one-stop-shopping for legal advice.

Portland firm Ater Wynne is merging with Seattle-based Buchalter, which has 275 attorneys in California, Arizona and Washington. Ater Wynne Managing Partner Todd Mitchell will become the managing shareholder of the Portland office. In Oregon, the firm will be known as Buchalter Ater Wynne.

Garvey Schubert Barer is joining forces with Washington law firm Foster Pepper. The combined company will be known as Foster Garvey. Greg Duff, firm chair of Garvey Schubert Barer, and Steve DiJulio, managing partner of Foster Pepper, will be co-chairs.

For Ater Wynne, Buchalter’s expertise in a variety of areas, such as real estate, banking, apparel and construction, was a draw, as well as its geographic reach.

“We find clients do not just want to do business in Portland. It is more efficient for clients not to cobble together a few law firms and jump between them,” says Mitchell.

Joe Arellano, managing partner of Foster Garvey’s Portland office, echoed those comments. “It used to be that clients would go to one firm for one thing. Now clients want all legal needs handled by the same firm. You need to make sure you have strength in all areas.”

Foster Garvey will be one of the largest law firms in the Pacific Northwest with a combined 180 lawyers when the merger is official on Oct. 1.

A bigger law firm with diverse practice areas is also a strategy to attract high-caliber lawyers seeking “interesting and diverse clients,” says Arellano.

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